Agencies Step In To Cover Shifts, Allowing Deputies To Attend Funeral

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GREENWOOD (KFSM) --  A viewing for fallen Sebastian County deputy Bill Cooper was held at the First Baptist Church in Greenwood on Monday (Aug. 15).

Uniformed officers by the dozen showed up at staggered times to pay their respects to Cooper and his family.

Friend of Cooper's, Scott Elmore, said he used to be a patrolman with Cooper many years ago and felt he needed to say a few word to him.

"An excellent deputy; more importantly, an excellent man," he said. " I love him. He'll never be replaced. Ain't no way."

Also on Monday (Aug.15), workers with the Fort Smith Convention Center rushed to set up the venue for the hundreds who are expected to show up to pay their respect. Deputies with the Sebastian County Sheriff's Department were also on hand to figure out the details of the funeral.

"Even as we are making these funeral plans there is still an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Arkansas State Police. So, all of those things are going on as well as the healing process and the grieving process. Even for Cpl. Cooper's family, of course, who we sometimes forget. We think of the department, who he worked with, but their loss is amplified even past ours," said Philip Pevehouse with the Sebastian County Sheriff's Department.

As most of the men and women who work for the sheriff's department plan to attend the funeral, other police agencies in our area are planning to step in and take command of the department. The Arkansas State Police will likely do the patrols and go out on calls while the Washington and Crawford County personnel take over the jail.

"I would dare say that probably we might have double to three times the coverage of a normal day ," said Pevehouse. "We want citizens to know that if you make a call, somebody is still going to come. They may not be wearing our uniform, but they're going to know what to do and they are going to take care of you. To anyone who is thinking maybe this is a good time to go and do something, the police aren't going to be present or sheriff's deputies won't be present - that's not going to be the case. It's gong to be one of the most well protected counties in the state , I'll assure you."

Sebastian County deputy Mike Burcham is one of Cooper's work brothers who will be attending his funeral. He said it might be one of the most difficult times he's had to face.

"You've lost someone you loved, someone you cared about, someone who would really give you the shirt off his back, including the guy who killed him," Burcham said. "He does not have a clue what he's taken from this county and from this area."